Psychoanalytical term for the vivid, often cathartic return of painful emotion(s) from past circumstances. The patient may have been conscious of the emotion/memory beforehand, or it may suddenly emerge from repression in the subconscious.
Example: A woman in therapy for sexual difficulty recalls being raped in childhood; for the first time, she fully experiences her pain and fear surrounding the incident.
Grinnell, R. (2008). Abreaction. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 30, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/encyclopedia/2008/abreaction/